Lee Groves

The 12 best fights never made from flyweight to heavyweight

Super middleweight – Roy Jones Jr. vs. Nigel Benn

Best time to make this fight: March of 1995

Reasons: Jones was fresh off his dazzling and surprisingly dominant decision over Toney the previous November and in real-life terms he stopped mandatory challenger Antoine Byrd in 126 seconds on March 18, 1995. On the other hand, Benn’s last outing was a decision over Juan Carlos Gimenez in September of 1994 and his next bout was the extraordinary but tragic stoppage of McClellan in February of 1995. Substitute Benn for Byrd on Jones’ schedule and push back Benn’s slate a month, and voila!

Why this fight made the list: “The Dark Destroyer” still had nuclear warheads for hands but since gaining the WBC crown in October of 1992 he had added boxing skills to his game. That versatility would have served him well against Jones, who was at or near the top of everyone’s pound-for-pound list based on his uniquely wondrous skill set and the victory over Toney. Both men spewed their fair share of trash talk in their time and there would have been plenty in this pre-fight build-up. Everyone knew, however, that they had the goods to back up every syllable.

What might have happened: It’s difficult to tell whether Benn would stick with his more reserved boxing style out of respect for Jones’ talent or if he would revert to the hell-bent-for-leather approach that starched so many of his middleweight opponents. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, for Jones at his best was unlike any fighter who had yet lived. Comet-quick hands enabled him to land bombs without first establishing the jab and “Superman’s” one-punch power was superior to Benn’s at 168. If Benn chose to slug the fight would have been brief and explosive. If Benn boxed, he would have logged more rounds. The result, however, would have been the same – Jones Jr. adding another “W,” and a “KO” to boot.

Honorable mentions: Joe Calzaghe vs. Sven Ottke, James Toney vs. Chris Eubank (the press conferences alone would have been pay-per-view worthy), Roy Jones Jr. vs. Steve Collins, Roy Jones Jr. vs. Chris Eubank

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